Erlendsson: Why Lightning's latest Cup run 'different' than previous ones

Tampa Bay Lightning
Photo credit Julio Aguilar / Stringer / Getty Images

The last time that an NHL team celebrated three consecutive championships, all the way back in May 1982, not a single player on the Tampa Bay Lightning's current roster was even born yet. But, with four more wins this June, the two-time defending champions can accomplish one of hockey's rarest feats, hoist the Stanley Cup, and prove that lightning strikes the same place three times.

Tampa Bay advanced to its third straight Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night, beating the New York Rangers on home ice, 2-1, in Game 6 of the East Finals inside Amalie Arena. With series victories over the Rangers, Florida Panthers, and Toronto Maple Leafs, the Lightning have now won 11 consecutive playoff series -- the third-longest streak in history. In order to become just the fourth team to achieve a three-peat, they'll need to outlast the Colorado Avalanche.

"The path they've had to go -- starting off with Toronto and falling down 2-1 -- they hadn't trailed in a series since 2019. They faced one elimination game the previous two years," Lightning insider Erik Erlendsson explained to After Hours with Amy Lawrence on Monday. "We think of this team as Stamkos, Kucherov, Point, and Hedman, who're capable of lighting up a scoreboard. But they held Florida, who averaged 4.1 goals in the season, to three goals in four games...

"Then to fall behind 2-0 against the Rangers... Not that their other two teams didn't have this same sort of heart, desire, hunger. But to have to come back another year and do it again, and fall behind in a couple series, and then still be in the same situation. This year is different from the previous two, because of the way they've had to go to get to this route, the teams they've had to get past, and how hard they've had to dig in to make it happen."

Tampa Bay, which placed third in the Atlantic Division (110 points) this season, will visit Colorado for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday night at Ball Arena (8:00 ET puck-drop). According to FiveThirtyEight projections, the Lightning have a 38-percent chance to capture the title, and if the Avalanche win, it'll be their second championship in team history and first since 2001.

The entire Lightning conversation between Erlendsson and Lawrence can be accessed in the audio player above.

You can follow After Hours With Amy Lawrence on Twitter @ALawRadio and @AfterHoursCBS, and Tom Hanslin @TomHanslin.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Julio Aguilar / Stringer / Getty Images